If the Walls Could TalkFind out how four homeowners make small-scale living possible through fantastic design. See a Parisian-styled lounge on wheels in California, Swedish design in Chicago, cool kitsch in Seattle and a live-work space in New York.
Andrew Wilder's design philosophy is to see what he can take out of a space and still maintain its artistic integrity. Owner of Chicago's Svenska Mobler gallery, he's a specialist in Argentine and Swedish functionalist furniture. Honoring vintage architecture while achieving a contemporary feel, Wilder chose bold colors, human-scaled furnishings and a few eclectic elements like striking red lacquered kitchen cabinets in his home.
Imperfect walls? Wilder found that using wallpaper with a small pattern hides bumps and blemishes and gives the illusion of a smooth wall. To increase the impression of space in the bathroom, a floor-to-ceiling curtain was created with an extension curtain hung above the shower curtain. He also hung a chandelier to schnazz it up and give it the ambiance of a tiny ballroom.
Showcase StyleThe fireplace, which is no longer used, is the most interesting original period piece in the apartment. As such, Wilder chose important and appropriate pieces to display around it. To create additional ambiance in an unused fireplace, use an arrangement of different heights of pillar candles. Another favorite feature in this room is the window seat. It hides the not so appealing period radiator and has dormers to the side that house additional storage.
A Fraction of the SpaceCool Kitsch in a Small Space
It's back to the future when you step inside Chris Comte's basement pad in Seattle's hip Capitol Hill neighborhood. Inspired by 60s pop culture, Comte added design elements from sci-fi cinema—with a little NASA thrown in. A big collector in not so big a space, Comte fits all sorts of collections in what he calls the world's smallest great room.
Everything is about three-fourths or one-half the size of typical appliances. The stainless steel countertop and appliances also give a feeling of retro space-age kitsch. A shelving unit in front of the window provides extra space for cookbooks, pantry items and dishes. Comte cleverly displays his spice canisters on the hood of his range. Velcro tape can be used to keep things in unusual, gravity-defying spaces.
No Bathroom is an IslandMatchstick blinds make great wall coverings and add texture to an otherwise bland wall. If you have terrible bathroom floors, cover them with a bamboo mat.
Roadside AttractionParisian Lounge
When you think motor home, stylish and elegant aren't instant associations. But designer Barclay Butera proves that you can have any sort of lifestyle in any type of home. He dismantled and customized his Airstream trailer with upholstery, carpeting and chic cabinets.
Working in a small space requires a lot of creativity. Butera loves his traveling home office—it's an interesting and fun place to be when he's on the road. Because it is completely battery powered, the motor home doesn't need to be plugged in for up to two weeks, making it a completely self-contained unit. Now the space is used not only as a living space on long trips, but has been showcased as the press green room at Sundance, and as a salon at Butera's pre-Oscar party!
Parisian LoungeFor a 1950s Parisian lounge atmosphere, Butera chose black leather and leopard print throughout the camper. A continuous design in a small space keeps the eye moving and creates a total atmosphere. It features a full kitchen, a shower vestibule, a sizeable bed and storage hidden in every conceivable space
Great Place for ReflectionInterior lit cabinets with sliding Lucite doors give the space a sense of depth. The black bedding with white and leopard print accents are set off against the aluminum interior. This would be a great materials choice for a small kitchen or bathroom.
Recycled ReclinerA Design Firm Just Off the Kitchen
Sheri Koetting and Marc Levitt's two-level apartment is their home and office space for their design firm. Downstairs, they often have several employees at work in the room next to their kitchen. Upstairs, the living room and bedroom double as the wayward home for other people's discarded artistic objects. As graphic artists, aesthetics are important.
If you put a little energy back into a piece and recover it instead of tossing it, you can make it work for a whole new generation of design. This was Koetting's dad's recliner and was originally puke green. They had the piece reupholstered and then had their custom-built sofa upholstered in the same fabric. Their multipurpose couch has arms that swing around to become leg rests and a back that folds down to become a bed.
Dad, the Design MuseFamily pieces, flea market finds and antiques can add a lot of character (and storage) to a room. The homeowners' bedroom was designed around the bedroom set that Koetting's dad made for her when she was in the sixth grade. They had a custom platform bed made to fit the room and to conceal storage for unused seasonal clothing. Think about what you're going to use in any given season and then put what you aren't going to use on the highest shelf, in the deepest closet, under the bed—just get it out of your way!
A Little Orange Goes a Long WayThe homeowners wanted to add some life to their basement kitchen, so they chose a bold color and painted the cabinets (and the refrigerator) bright orange. The reason it works in this kitchen is because they committed to one color. It looks neat and orderly. If they add just one green or purple accent, the whole look would degenerate into a fun house motif. Another simple way to absolutely transform a kitchen space is to change the lighting and cabinetry hardware.